Norfolk kaka

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Norfolk kaka
Norfolk kaka Birmingham.JPG
Birmingham Museums Trust's taxidermed Norfolk kaka

Extinct  (1851) (IUCN 3.1)[1]
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Psittaciformes
Family: Nestoridae
Genus: Nestor
N. productus
Binomial name
Nestor productus
(Gould, 1836)

Nestor norfolcensis
Plyctolophus productus
Centrurus productus

The Norfolk kaka (Nestor productus) is an extinct species[1][2] of large parrot, belonging to the parrot family Nestoridae.[3] The birds were about 38 cm long, with mostly olive-brown upperparts, (reddish-)orange cheeks and throat, straw-coloured breast, thighs, rump and lower abdomen dark orange and a prominent beak.[4] It inhabited the rocks and treetops of Norfolk Island and adjacent Phillip Island.[2] It was a relative of the New Zealand kaka.[4]


John Keulemans illustration of a bird from Norfolk Island, and the head of a Phillip Island specimen

The Norfolk kaka was first described by the naturalist Johann Reinhold Forster and his son Georg following the discovery of Norfolk Island by James Cook on 10 October 1774. The description was only published in 1844.[5] Around 1790, John Hunter depicted a bird on a kangaroo apple (Solanum aviculare).[6] The bird was formally described by John Gould in 1836,[7] from a specimen at the Zoological Society of London. Originally, the individuals from Norfolk Island and Philip Island were considered two separate species, Nestor norfolcensis (described by August von Pelzeln in 1860) and Nestor productus, respectively, but direct comparison of specimens of both islands showed that they were the same species.[8]

The Norfolk kaka was first described by John Gould in 1836 as Plyctolophus productus.[9]

Behaviour and ecology

Little is known of the bird's biology. It was said to have lived both on the ground and in tall trees, feeding on flowering shrubs and trees. The call was described by Gould as "hoarse, quacking, inharmonious noise, sometimes resembling the barking of a dog".[10]


The Polynesians who lived at the Island for some time before the arrival of the Europeans hunted the kākā for food before disappearing from the island around the 1600s.[11] It was also hunted for food and trapped as a pet after the arrival of the first settlers in 1788. The species' population suffered heavily after a penal colony was maintained from 1788 to 1814, and again from 1825 to 1854. The species likely became extinct in the wild in the early nineteenth century some time during the period of this second penal colony. It was not recorded by Ensign Abel D. W. Best on either Norfolk or Phillip Island in his 1838/1839 diary entries. As Best collected specimens for ornithology, including the Norfolk parakeet (which he called "lories", being similar in shape), it is hard to accept that he would not have documented this much more attractive quarry, had the kākā still been present.[12] The last bird in captivity died in London in 1851.


Painting by John Gould
Turnaround video of a male specimen, Naturalis Biodiversity Center

At least sixteen specimens survive.

Museum Collection numbers Collection location References
Australian Museum in Sydney AM O.22287 & AM PA.2933 Phillip Island [13]
Museum Victoria in Melbourne NMV 14050 Phillip Island [14]
American Museum of Natural History in New York City AMNH SKIN-616718 & AMNH Skin-300597 [15]
National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. USNM 176991.4028148 & USNM 151991.4354158 unknown and Phillip Island [16][17]
Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia ANSP 22082 Phillip Island [18]
Zoölogisch Museum in Amsterdam -> Naturalis ZMA 3164 Phillip Island [19][19]
Naturalis in Leiden RMNH 110.061 & RMNH 110.068 Phillip Island [20][20]
Natural History Museum in Tring NHM 1837.9.26.12, NHM 1955.6.N.19.3, NMH VEL.25.282a and NHM without catalog number [21][22]
Museum of Zoology and Natural History (La Specola) 1 skin? [23]
Birmingham Museums Trust 1 taxidermy mount, 1912Z108 [24][25]
Derby Museum, Liverpool 2 skins? Norfolk Island & Phillip Island [8]
Dresden: C.3363 Phillip Island [26]
Frankfurt a. M. SMF 17346 Phillip Island [26]
Halberstadt skin - [27]
Göttingen dermoplastik, male - [26]
Wien LECTOTYPE: NMW 41.026 - -

Forshaw has measurements of seven skins, one male, one female and five of unknown sex.[4]

Naturalis in Leiden has 2 skins; one male (RMNH 110.061) and one female (RMNH 110.068).[20] Both individuals originate from Philip Island. The male skin was acquired in 1863 long after the species' assumed disappearance, but it is unknown how it came to Leiden. It is more likely, given Phillip Island was already overrun with feral pigs, rabbits, goats and chicken in late 1838, that the 1863 specimen was purchased from another collection. The single unsexed individual from Philip Island at the Zoölogisch Museum [28] (ZMA 3164) has been obtained before 1860, and originate probably from the same batch as the two specimens at Naturalis in Leiden.[19] An old list of the specimens of birds present in the British Museum of Natural History list two individuals, both from Philip Island. One of the two specimens came from Bell's collection.[22]


  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2012). "Nestor productus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Norfolk kaka - BirdLife Species Factsheet". BirdLife International. 2008.
  3. ^ Joseph, Leo; et al. (2012). "A revised nomenclature and classification for family-group taxa of parrots (Psittaciformes)" (PDF). Zootaxa. 3205: 26–40.
  4. ^ a b c Forshaw, Joseph M.; Cooper, William T. (1981) [1973, 1978]. Parrots of the World (corrected second ed.). David & Charles, Newton Abbot, London. ISBN 0-7153-7698-5.
  5. ^ Forster, Johann Reinhold (1844). Descriptiones animalium : quae in itinere ad maris Australis terras per annos 1772, 1773 et 1774 /suscepto collegit observavit et delineavit Joannes Reinoldus Forster ... nunc demum editae auctoritate et impensis Academiae litterarum regiae berolinae curante Henrico Lichtenstein academiae socio. Berolini : Ex officina academica.
  6. ^ Olsen, Penny (2001). Feather and Brush: 300 Years of Australian Bird Art. CSIRO Publishing. ISBN 978-0-643-06547-5.
  7. ^ Gould, J. (1865). Handbook to the Birds of Australia. 2. London: the author.
  8. ^ a b "Societies and Academies". Nature. 56 (1445): 237–240 [239]. 1897. doi:10.1038/056237c0.
  9. ^ John Gould (1836) Characters of some new Birds in the Society's Collection, including two new genera, Paradoxornis and Actinodura Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, Pt4 no.38 p.19
  10. ^ Higgins, P.J. (ed). (1999). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Volume 4: Parrots to Dollarbird. Oxford University Press: Melbourne. ISBN 0-19-553071-3
  11. ^ Holdaway, Richard N.; Atholl Anderson (2001). "Avifauna from the Emily Bay Settlement Site, Norfolk Island: A Preliminary Account" (PDF). Records of the Australian Museum. Supplement. 27: 85–100. doi:10.3853/j.0812-7387.27.2001.1343.
  12. ^ Moore, J.L. (1985). "Ensign Best's bird observations on Norfolk Island" (PDF). Notornis. 32 (4): 319–322. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 October 2008. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 19 January 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 19 January 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 19 January 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 19 January 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 8 October 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ "Occurrence Detail 242016583".
  19. ^ a b c "Nestor productus - Norfolk Kaka specimen(s) in the ZMA". Archived from the original on 8 June 2011. Retrieved 28 December 2008. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  20. ^ a b c "Naturalis - Extinct bird: Nestor productus (Norfolk Kaka)". Archived from the original on 8 June 2011. Retrieved 28 December 2008. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  21. ^ "Collections - Natural History Museum".
  22. ^ a b Gray, George Robert (1855). List of the Specimens of Birds in the Collection of the British Museum. ISBN 1-143-02845-7.
  23. ^ "La Specola - Extinct birds".
  24. ^ Newman, Edward (1899). "Editorial gleanings". The Zoologist. 3: 234–240.
  25. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 August 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  26. ^ a b c Dieter Luther: Die ausgestorbenen Vögel der Welt. Nachdr. d. 3. A. 1986 (1995)
  27. ^ Bernd Nicolai (1993): Dünnschnabelnestor, Nestor productus (Gould 1836), in der Sammlung des Heineanums. In: Ornithologische Jahresberichte des Museum Heineanum 11 (1993) S. 113-116.
  28. ^ "Welcome - Zoological Museum Amsterdam - University of Amsterdam". Archived from the original on 21 January 2009. Retrieved 14 April 2018. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)

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